Education Authority: Chair

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 2nd March 2015.

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Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice 3:15 pm, 2nd March 2015

T2. Mr Allister asked the Minister of Education why he is appointing someone with no education background as chair of the new Education Authority; someone who, on the day she leaves her existing post, will leave with a £250,000 golden handshake to walk into a public appointment that the Minister is gifting to her. (AQT 2192/11-15)

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

I am satisfied that all the appointments that I have made to date, including that of the chair of the Education Authority, are the correct appointments, that they meet the criteria of the post and that the person involved will be more than capable of delivering quite a challenging role in the time ahead, ensuring that we end up with a body that is made up of different sectors operating as one sector for the betterment of our education system.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

Given the background of the other two shortlisted persons that the Minister considered, is he playing the green card in appointing Ms O'Connor?

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

I find that question totally unacceptable, and an accusation that I have acted in an inappropriate and illegal manner. I ask you, Mr Speaker, to investigate Mr Allister's comments because he has accused me not only of breaking the ministerial code but of acting illegally.

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Treasury)

You would not be the first Sinn Féin Minister to do so.

Photo of Mitchel McLaughlin Mitchel McLaughlin Speaker

Order. Let me respond to your point of order. The question was presented as a question and not as an accusation, but I will study Hansard. My first impression is that, in fact, he did not make an accusation but asked a rhetorical question, perhaps provocatively so.